25×25

The fact that I will be 25 years old recently dawned on me, and the thought of being a quarter of a century old kind of makes one feel reflective. Sometimes I still feel like I was a teenager last week, but then I have to step back and remember that its been ten years since I started high school, and now over a year since I graduated college. It’s cheesy and everyone says it, but it really is true . . . time sure does fly.

elaysBut as I’ve been evaluating my past, I end up catching myself and realizing that by thinking so, so, so much about where I’ve been, I miss out on the moments right in front of me, and I forget to live in the now. So as I think about not thinking about the past and thinking about the present which makes me think of where I’ll be in the future (timey-wimey I know) I’ve decided to create a list for my year. Not a set of vague and lofty resolutions that I won’t follow through on, but a set of 25 perfectly achievable things that I would like to do before I turn 25, which I believe will help me also make 2015 an incredibly memorable year.

There’s a little less than nine months to cross off all the items on this list, so this should be fun. The hope is that for every item I get to check off this list (which will be presented in no particular order) I’ll blog about the experience – treating each item as a prompt challenge to be fulfilled in a later post. Things on the list will vary between quirky, fun things I’ve always wanted to do, and more meaningful big items that I feel can really make this a rewarding year for not just me, but others in my life. Wish me luck!

1) Marathon all 8 Harry Potter films.
Almost 20 hours of magical movie goodness? Always.

snape

2) Marathon all 6 LOTR/Hobbit films.
Another 20+ hours of marathoning? #DoItForFrodo

frodo

3) Spend a weekend kicking back in a blanket fort.
Because nothing says turning 25 like acting like you’re 5.

blanketfort

4) Host a fancy picnic with friends.
Never had a legitimate picnic, so this Spring I’ma make it a thing.

garden party

5) Spend an entire weekend without internet.
Let’s be real, we all need to power down once in a while.

No_more_internet_for_you

6) Visit at least 2 other countries.
I’ve never left the USA and this is not acceptable. Now all I need’s a passport . . .

world

7) Pull an all nighter at a beach.
Because stargazing and the ocean. Is there any other reason needed?

ariel

8) Read at least 25 new books.
Because 2015 is the year I get back in touch with something I love most. Books.

reading

9) Send a random positive message to all my tumblr followers.
Currently there’s 1850 of them, and if there’s more I’ll add them too. #WorthIt

awesome

10) See the sunrise from the Art Museum steps.
I’ve always said I wanted to do this with someone, but screw it. I’m not going to let others keep me from doing what I want this year.

rocky

11) Create my own dish that can become a family recipe.
Hint: The secret ingredient will probably be love.

yum

12) Stargaze somewhere so clear I can see the Milky Way.
Cause nothing puts things in perspective like being able to see your galaxy with your own eyes.

milky way

13) Visit London.
Hopefully for MuggleNet Live: Expo Patronum, which is going to be the awesomest thing ever.

awesome totally

14) Go to Geeky Con 2015 and revisit Hogwarts.
Because nowhere in the world have I ever felt so at home than I did with my nerdy family.

hogwarts

15) Sing at an open mic night.
I haven’t sang like I used to in years. It’s high time I changed that.

scarlet sings

16) Write a letter to my 50 year old self.
Where will I be in the next 25 years? Who knows. 50 year old me, that’s who.

too old

17) Bury a time capsule somewhere special to me.
And won’t it be grand if one day someone finds it while I’m still alive?

doctor

18) Become a published author.
Whether its some poetry in a literary magazine or a book you can buy from amazon, I want to be able to say I’m published before 25.

good writing

19) Go camping for at least a night.
Me and the outdoors don’t tend to be very one with each other. Perhaps this will change that.

outdoors

20) Get my second tattoo.
Been wanting the next ever since the first. The time has come.

tattoos

21) Cut my hair really short.
Like, really short. Like, shorter than ever short.

mulan

22) Successfully complete a photography project.
I have a few in mind, but I need to stop procrastinating and make them happen!

sherlock camera

23) Perform spoken word poetry.
I’ve written several pieces, but always get too scared to share them. Not anymore.

poem

24) Make a new short film.
I miss filmmaking more than anything, so its high time I made a new narrative short.

giphy

25) Send a letter to all the important people in my life.

The people I love deserve to hear that, and nothing to me says I love you like a handwritten letter.

love you

Thanks for reading loves. Here’s to the rest of 24, and to making things happen.

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#SpeakUp2015

Firework babyThe night of New Year’s Eve into New Years Day was a night I won’t soon forget.

I had the chance to hang with some close friends, have a few drinks, nom on some pizza, and then by random happenstance got a chance to see the Penn’s Landing fireworks from a rooftop. It nearly made me cry because the view was so beautiful. After that, one of the friends on the roof with us was like, LET’S GO TO IHOP! So we continued the adventure downtown, shenanigans ensued, pancakes were devoured, and we spent a solid hour attempting to find a cab. It was a near perfect night.

Until the chauvanistic/transphobic Douchenozzle on Locust Street came along.

Basically, as my friends and I walked along the street, trying to find a cab that would stop for us at almost 2am, there was a guy walking behind me with his phone out, who I overheard making a rude comment to a girl walking by with another guy. Douchenozzle, as we shall refer to him, decided to say to this girl, “Your dress is too short honey, put on some fuckin pants!”

As anyone who knows me is aware, I cannot stand guys like this, who are the reason so many women are afraid to walk out their door for fear of being harassed. Even though she was walking with someone else and the pair of them brushed off the comment to keep walking, it really annoyed me, and I turned around, shooting a venomous look at Douchenozzle. I didn’t say anything though, because of something that bothers me just as much as his comment did.

I’ve witnessed scenarios like this, many of them worse, on countless occasions, but I always keep my mouth shut. Its safer to stay quiet, especially for women. But if you do decide to stay silent, society will tell you, “If you don’t speak up, that’s just as bad! Why didn’t you call him out? Maybe he doesn’t know its offensive until you tell him!” This leaves me stuck in a place where I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. But what happened next made me pick damned if I do, because Douchenozzle stepped over the line.

Douchenozzle noticed the group made up of several men and women who were walking ahead of me and my group of friends, and at this point the guy makes his way around me to be closer to them. This was when I noticed the camera of his phone was turned on, and he tried to take a picture of one of the women in front of us. Then, laughing, he proceeds to say something to my guy friends, completely disregarding my existence.

He proclaimed, “Dude, look at this!” He holds up his phone for my friend to see, “That fags a man! That’s a he/she!” pointing to the one woman walking in front of us with her friends, who proceeded to cross the street to get away from him.

As my friend looked back at me confused, and as Douchenozzle continued to laugh, I said to him, “How about you shut the fuck up?”

In retrospect, me swearing was probably not the best course of action, but given the fact that this all went down not even three days after Leelah Alcorn committed suicide, I found it impossible to keep my cool and stay silent about this guy’s completely uncalled for commentary. Then, Douchenozzle, who happens to be white like me, turns to some random person on the side of the street, who happens to be black and says, “Yo man, that girl just called you a filthy n****r.” and points at me.

THAT is why so many women stay silent rather than call out injustices. Because people like Douchenozzle will do whatever they can to try and hurt us should we open our mouths.

Thankfully, and because I’d like to believe God was on my side, the man that Douchenozzle said this too had not seemed to be paying full attention and ignored the rude and racist comment that this guy had been trying to pin on me. Seeing he had failed, Douchenozzle chose to walk away in the other direction, but he was still. fucking. laughing.

So what’s the point of me regaling you all with this encounter which shows how sexism, racism, and transphobia are alive and well in 2015? This isn’t news to anyone. The point is that while Douchenozzle tried to hurt people with his comments, and tried to hurt me for calling him out on them, no one got hurt. My saying something derailed his hatred, and led him away from the people he was trying to harm. If nothing else, my speaking up helped the person he was mocking from receiving any further torment.

Queen Bey

I understand that not every situation is safe enough to speak up, and I will be the first person to recognize that. Maybe had I not been with three male friends, I might not have been as bold. But at the end of the day, talking about changing the way men treat women (and how pretty much everyone and their mother treats the trans* community) is not going to do any good unless we stick up for each other and call out sexism and prejudice when we see it happening.

I encourage you to consider this a challenge for the year. Add it to your list of resolutions, because while feminism and trans issues are finally gaining national attention, we have a long way to go to. It’s my hope that people realize how important their voice can be. Standing up for someone can make all the difference.

Becoming Elayna

Shakespeare may have expressed in Romeo & Juliet that names are artificial and meaningless compared to the person behind them, but as one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes (also featuring Willy Shakes) suggested, there can be real power in a name.

That’s why I’ve chosen to change mine to Elayna Mae Darcy.

But first, let me share with you the story of how that name came to be.

Growing up, my name was something that never 100% felt like me. I did always like the letter M. I liked that my name was different and had one L instead of two. I liked the Irishness of my dad’s last name. But while I liked all of that, I never felt that I loved my name. All of those things together didn’t feel like they equalled who I really was. The only time I thought it worked remotely well was when people said the full version of it, Michele Elaine Hannon, because Elaine was my favorite part. But growing up, changing it wasn’t an option, so I remained silent, and answered to the name I was given.

Michele was someone who was named after a dad who was never really a part of her life. She was someone who allowed other people to make fun of her, which only added to why she couldn’t stand her name so much. It got to the point where she associated Michele with all the things people thought about Michele; fat, ugly, unwanted, the list could go on. She was someone who could never even settle on a favorite nickname, because no matter how hard she tried to like the variations of Michele (Shell, Shelly, even Meesh) there was something about all these names that just wasn’t her. The names didn’t reflect how she felt about herself, because deep down she wanted desperately to love herself, but the world was so convinced that Michele was not worthy of love. She had convinced herself of it too. So at 14 when she became passionate about writing, she first began to entertain the idea of a pen name.

The one she came up with then was one she discarded quickly, mostly because it was one she came up with only because it sounded pretty. The years went by, and while her name continued to be used against her, she remained silent. Michele was not someone who believed it was worth trying to change. But just before college, with the idea that she could reinvent herself and be called anything she wanted, she revisited the idea, and debated about going into college and introducing herself by her middle name which she’d loved so much. Elaine meant light, and Michele thought that was beautiful.

Whether it was losing her mother and feeling obligated to the name she had left her with, or just a lack of courage, Michele stayed. Sophomore year friends started calling her Meesh, and this, while probably the favorite of all the nicknames she’d been called over the years, still didn’t feel exactly right. College had come and gone and still, Michele was Michele, despite the fact that the name still didn’t suit her. But then she went to Leaky Con, and met someone who would have an impact on her that she could never have anticipated.

Leaky Con was honestly the best week of her life, and there’s a list longer than my arm of why that is. But one of the stand out experiences, was the night that spanned from Thursday into Friday. That was the night of Pizza with Snapes.

Feeling frankly too damn excited to possibly entertain the notion of being unconscious for a few hours, Michele went down to the lobby with her laptop, where she soon encountered a merry gathering of people also there for the convention, three of which were dressed like Professor Snape. As you can assume, there was pizza there too. The good conversations and shenanigans lasted until nearly 5:30am, and it was a brilliant night in many respects, but one of the members of the group shared the story of how he had changed his name, and he said it was one of the best decisions he’d ever made in his life. That statement stayed with Michele for months, and left her once again questioning if she had the guts to change.

As November rolled around, for the second time in 2014, the idea of changing her name was once again at the forefront, as getting back into writing led her back down the road of possibly choosing a pen name. And it was on a late December day of looking into various names that finally, Michele discovered what her name should be.

Elayna Mae Darcy is who I’m supposed to be.

Elayna is really the one piece of my given name that is staying. I always loved that my middle name meant “Light”, so as I change my name, it seems only fitting I should let the light within me shine. The spelling is a little different, but essentially, Elayna is my way of keeping the part of my name that was not only my favorite, but also my mother’s. I think she’d be happy with that.

Mae is actually an Italian name meaning “Mine”, and while I’m not italian in heritage, I loved the idea of not only keeping an M somewhere in my name, but I also felt that by making “Mine” a part of my name, it gives me ownership of the name I picked for myself. I am my own person, and so is my name, and no one can take that away.

Darcy allows me to keep an Irish last name, and allows for a nice contrast to my first name’s meaning, as Darcy means “Dark one” or “Darkness”. That makes my full name mean “Light my dark”, which is something I want my name to do. I want my name to remind me that every moment, I have the power to bring light to the darkness, I have the ability to see the good in the bad, and thus eventually overcome it.

So to all who may be reading this, I am glad to have been able to explain to you why I’m doing something that to you, may seem random, since you’ve not been in my head all these years as I’ve struggled with this. Please remember that while it might be hard for you to adjust to calling me something different, it is equally hard for me to start being called something different than what I have been for the first 24 years of my life. But know that also, every time you say it, my heart fills with so much joy, because I finally feel like I’m being called a name that matches who I am.

So thank you for reading my very first blog post, and may you have a Happy 2015 friends. May it be filled with light.

Always,
Elayna Mae Darcy

elayna